If you think there’s a housing crisis in Portland, your idea of what constitutes a crisis is seriously warped. Compared to a real shortage of accommodations, Portland is a home-hunter’s paradise.
For an example of a place where it’s almost impossible to find shelter, try visiting GOPville. Here are some nearly factual excerpts from Craigslist postings offering Republican rentals:
“If you don’t believe Obama is a Muslim, you won’t be living here.”
“Potential renters will be required to sign an affidavit stating they have evidence the election is rigged.”
“All windows must be covered by ‘Trump for President’ signs until election day, and aluminum foil thereafter.”
In contrast, Portland has newly refurbished apartments suitable for working-class families that can be rented for little more than a handshake and a promise to eventually pay the security deposit. Suburban houses with large yards on quiet, tree-lined streets are readily available for the price of a decent restaurant meal and a generous tip. Luxury condos with water views, indoor parking and illegal immigrants to handle the menial chores sell for monthly payments lower than the average annual income in Guatemala.
(All prices quoted in the preceding paragraph are for comparison purposes only, and are not intended to reflect reality.)
These days, the Maine GOP isn’t exactly a welcoming place – particularly for those who hold moderate views. Gov. Paul LePage, the nominal head of the party and a mildew-infected water balloon, has twice publicly stated he thinks advocates for a higher minimum wage should be jailed. LePage favors deterring drug dealers through racial profiling, since he’s convinced most of them are black or Hispanic. And the governor has suggested he’d like to shoot at least one legislator and one editorial cartoonist, which is well over the bag limit.
With few exceptions, Republicans have failed to repudiate these statements, and more than a few members privately agree with them, although they’ve been smart enough to avoid discussing that with Billy Bush. Overall, the party’s message is clearer than that of a Portland landlord who refuses to take Section 8 vouchers:
Anyone to the left of congressional candidate Mark Holbrook should consider relocating to the nearest homeless shelter.
This exclusionary attitude is likely to have serious consequences for the GOP, both immediate and long-term.
Let’s start with the morning after the Nov. 8 vote. While Democrats are convinced they’ll wake up that day having won control of the state Senate, the odds of that happening have been shrinking in recent weeks. In parts of the 2nd District, several seats that once looked shaky for Republicans have shifted from purple toward red (despite LePage’s claims of widespread voter fraud). Two experienced political operatives told me the GOP could well hold onto the Senate by a single seat.
Trouble is, that 18-17 margin will almost certainly include state Sen. Tom Saviello of Wilton, a moderate who’s been a regular target of LePage’s venomous excretions. Saviello, who used to be an independent (and before that, a Democrat), has notified party leaders that unless they agree to rule changes designed to increase collaboration and compromise in the Senate, he’ll once again become unenrolled, leaving that chamber with no clear majority, and himself holding the balance of power.
Even more disturbing for Republicans is the increasing likelihood that the state’s most popular politician may leave the GOP.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, one of the few Republicans with the guts to repudiate Trump, has been considering a run for governor in 2018. One impediment to Collins’ plan is that she’d have to slog through an ugly GOP primary against one or more ultra-conservative challengers, most notably LePage’s commissioner of health and human services, Mary Mayhew. The easiest way to avoid engaging with the alt-right would be to run as an independent, an option Collins is said by several insiders to be giving serious consideration.
Defections by Collins and Saviello might embolden other disillusioned GOP moderates, leading to their eviction from their abodes, a move that could cripple Republican chances of winning statewide races for years to come.
That’s probably not enough of a threat to deter the party’s extremists. They’re all in on the idea of building an ideological wall.
Even if they have to pay for it.
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